Unbound riches: Comparative adjectives and the argument from binding

Stefano Predelli

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2003.017


Uncontroversially, the semantic interpretation of comparative adjectives such as rich or small depends, among other factors, on a contextually salient comparison standard. Two alternative theories have been proposed in order to account for such contextual dependence: an indexicalist view, according to which comparative adjectives are indexical expressions, and a hidden variable approach, which insists that a comparison standard is contributed as the semantic value of a variable occurring at the level of semantic representation. In this paper, I defend the indexicalist view against an influential argument favoring the hidden variable approach, the so-called argument from binding. I argue that independent evidence favors an understanding of comparison standards as functions, and that on such a conception of comparison standards the evidence put forth by the argument from binding is naturally accountable within an indexicalist treatment.

Full Text:



Bach, Kent, 1994. ‘Conversational Impliciture’, Mind and Language 9: 124-162.

Cresswell, M. J., 1976. ‘The Semantics of Degree‘, in: B. Partee (ed.), Montague Grammar, Academic Press.

Heim, Irene and Angelika Kratzer, 1998. Semantics in Generative Grammar, Blackwell, Oxford.

Kaplan, D., 1977. ‘Demonstratives’, in: J. Almog, J. Perry, and H. Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan, Oxford University Press.

Ludlow, Peter, 1989. ‘Implicit Comparison Classes’, Linguistics and Philosophy 12: 519-533.

Parsons, Terence, 1972. Some Problems Concerning the Logic of Grammatical Modifiers, in: Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Language, D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht.

Stanley, Jason, 2000. ‘Context and Logical Form’, Linguistics and Philosophy 23: 391-434.

Stanley, Jason, 2002a. ‘Making It Articulated’, Mind and Language 17: 149-168.

Stanley, Jason, 2002b. ‘Nominal Restriction’, in: Peters and Preyer (eds.), Logical Form and Language, Oxford University Press.

ISSN: 1425-3305 (print version)

ISSN: 2300-9802 (electronic version)

Partnerzy platformy czasopism